Tarragon – Mexican(Tagetes lucida)
Light requirements: Full sun to part shade.
Planting: Space 18 to 24 inches apart.
Soil requirements: Plants grow best in light, well-drained soil on the dry side. Amend heavy clay soils with organic matter and/or sand to improve drainage, or grow plants in raised beds.
Water requirements: Plants are drought tolerant, but will be fuller and flower best if soil provides adequate moisture. In containers, irrigate whenever the top inch of soil is dry.
Frost-fighting plan: Mexican tarragon is perennial in zones 9 to 11. A hard freeze (temperatures below 28º F) can kill established plants. In zone 8, plants frequently resprout from roots following a hard freeze. Use a frost blanket to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts or prolong the growing season in fall. In colder zones, grow as an annual or in a container you can bring indoors for winter.
Common issues: In poorly draining or heavy soil, plants often succumb to root rot. Otherwise, Mexican tarragon rarely suffers from pests or diseases.
Growing tip: Stems that fall over and touch the ground take root, causing plants to spread. If flowers are allowed to set seed, plants will reseed.
Harvesting: Pick leaves at any point in the growing season, although flavor is most intense just before plants bloom. Flower petals are also edible. To harvest, snip leafy stems to the length you desire. Stems rapidly produce new growth.
Storage: Keep a few stems in water at room temperature to enjoy fresh clippings for a few days. Wrap unwashed stems in a barely damp paper towel and slip into a plastic bag. Store stems in the lowest part of your refrigerator. Use within 4 to 5 days. Dried leaves don’t taste as good as fresh. Preserve in herbal vinegars or by freezing.
For more information, visit the Tarragon page in our How to Grow section.
- Calories: 14
- Carbohydrates: 2g
- Dietary fiber: 0g
- Sugars: 0g
- Protein: 1g
- Vitamin A: 4% DV
- Vitamin C: 4%
- Vitamin K: 0%
- Vitamin B6: 7%
- Folate: 3%
- Potassium: 4%
- Manganese: 19%
Each serving of French tarragon is packed with 19 percent of the daily requirement of manganese, an antioxidant which helps strengthen bones, collagen, and connective tissue. Tarragon also helps create fatty acids and cholesterol, as well as glycogen—a substance integral to energy and movement. French tarragon is the classic culinary tarragon. Many gardeners in hot, humid regions use Mexican mint marigold—also known as Mexican or Texas tarragon—as a substitute.